Last week was nuts… with an injury and multiple appointments on top of an already busy schedule I could feel myself being pulled away from my usual healthy habits and routines. All of the mammas out there can attest to the fact that we take a backseat to everyone else when the schedule gets crazy.
A busy schedule can also throw off the timing of your meals, which is why I recommend keeping healthful snacks in your car or purse to keep you from having a blood sugar freak out. Here are some natural stress-busting foods:
Hemp seeds. Also known as hemp hearts, hulled hemp seeds are great for sprinkling on cereal or salads, as well as tossing in your smoothie, and they’re an excellent source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins that help your body make nerve-calming tryptophan.
Coconut water. Available in convenient single-serve tetrapaks, this tropical drink is a natural source of electrolytes, vitamin C and medium-chain fatty acids that are used as immediate energy for your active body.
Granola bars (without the refined sugar). Between meals, when you’re on the go, granola bars are easy to slip into your bag so you don’t have to resort to vending machines or gas station fare. Choose a bar with no refined, white sugar in the ingredient list as that will only aggravate your overworked adrenal glands.
Trail mix. Pre-pack small handfuls of dried fruit, seeds and nuts to help keep blood sugar levels stable during a long day. Like granola bars, these little bags of raw energy will prevent resorting to non-nutritive processed food that may stress you out further.
Now carrying my water bottle has become as essential as leaving the house with my keys, but there are times when I know the day is going to be long and I want that extra boost to go with the snacks I stashed in my purse. This is when I reach for some nutrient dense herbs. Nutritive herbs are a class of plants that are rich in vitamins and minerals, providing us with a source of easily infused nutrients. My faves are alfalfa, oat straw, and nettles.
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) – is a restorative herb that not only contains a high amount of nutrients it also enhances the absorption of nutrients in the digestive tract. Alfalfa has a high calcium, magnesium and silicon content and is a fantastic herb to support women in all phases of life. Alfalfa also contains high amounts of chlorophyll protein, fibre, beta-carotene, and vitamins A, B’s and C.
Oat Straw (Avena sativa) – has nutritive properties that are beneficial to most individuals and especially for pregnant and nursing mothers. Oat straw contains many minerals that promote the development and maintenance of healthy bones, teeth, hair and nails and includes an easily absorbed form of calcium. Many of oat straw’s nutrients are beneficial for the nervous system. This herb contains high amounts of vitamin A and C, many B vitamins, and is also rich in minerals.
Nettles (Urtica dioica) – are one of the most nourishing plants on land. Nettles are highly nutritious and easily digested, supporting the immune system, musculoskeletal system, and connective tissues. They contain calcium, magnesium and silica, which can improve integrity of tissues as well as speed tissue repair in injury. Nettles are high in many minerals as well as vitamins A, C, D, and K, protein, chlorophyll and some B complex vitamins.
What is important to remember is that nutritive herbs have an alkalinizing effect – meaning they provide alkaline minerals to counteract the effects of acid in the body. Excessive acid comes from a diet rich in animal products, processed foods (white flour, sugar), pop and coffee, and a diet lacking fresh fruits and veggies. Your body makes every attempt to maintain alkalinity in your blood but consuming too many of the above foods causes the minerals to leach from your bones and tissues, resulting in a body that is too acidic. There are a number of chronic conditions that can result from long-term consumption of acidic foods including osteoporosis, arthritis, joint pain, and kidney stones. Migraines, eczema, psoriasis and acne are also aggravated by excess acid. Consuming nutritive herbs along with plenty of veggies and fruits every day is a great way to counter these negative effects.
While the actions of these herbs are gentle and subtle, they are also highly beneficial to support your body on a long-term basis by nourishing it with various vitamins and minerals. The best way to prepare these herbs is in an infusion. I prefer to steep them overnight – and remember the longer the herbs steep, the more vitamins and minerals will be extracted. You can drink up to 4 cups of this tea per day. Strain and throw that in a large mason jar that you can warm if needed or over ice in your water bottle and enjoy!
My nutritive tea recipe is as follows: Combine two parts peppermint (for flavour), one part nettles, one part oat straw, and one part alfalfa. For this I use roughly 4 cups of water for every 4-6 heaping tablespoons of herb mixture. Already prepared tea bags will also work if you cannot source the herbs or its an easier option for you, you can definitely find these at your local health food store. Add a pinch of stevia as a sweetener if needed/optional.
Of course, as always, be sure to consult your health practitioner before beginning any herbal regimen.
Mason Jar image courtesy of Nourished Kitchen.
Trail mix image courtesy of Passion, Paws and Peonies.